LANCO formed in 2013 and the band had a false start with their debut single Long Live Tonight, which struggled to gain traction on the US Country and US Country Airplay charts. A modest hit, the track was followed up by Greatest Love Story, which shot to number one on both charts and has been certified Gold by the RIAA. With the song continuing to perform strongly, LANCO is kicking off 2018 with the release of debut album Hallelujah Nights.
Hallelujah Nights sees frontman Brandon Lancaster penning four of the tracks on his own and co-writing the rest with top songwriters including Ross Copperman, Ashley Gorley, Josh Osborne and Jay Joyce. Interestingly Greatest Love Story is one of the four songs Lancaster wrote on his own and it really sets the tone for the record. With that track Lancaster managed to position LANCO as a band that is steeped in Country tradition but understood how to make it appeal to a contemporary audience. That approach is something is present throughout the record.
Born to Love You kicks off the record with shimmering guitar riffs and Lancaster’s distinctive vocal. It’s a fairly gentle way to start the record off and once the beat kicks in, you’re already desperate to hear how the song is going to unfold. There’s a laidback feeling about the song, and indeed much of the record, that feels quite refreshing.
LANCO aren’t afraid to experiment with their sound. Pick You Up incorporates plenty of beats crossing the band into a more mainstream sound, Win You Over is dominated by addictive banjo riffs and Middle of the Night has the feel of an impromptu performance during an open mic night. We Do opens up into an anthem-like chorus that I can imagine really coming to life in a live environment.
My favourite track comes on the simpler arrangements of So Long (I Do). Lancaster’s hushed tones ride over banjo and acoustic guitar, and it’s one of the more stripped-back moments included here. It incorporates a moderate rock sensibility that lifts the song and brings it to life in an interesting way.
One moment on the record that I felt conflicted about was Trouble Maker. On the one hand it has that irresistible vintage feel that I love but lyrically it’s a bit disappointing that the song reverts back to the bro country trope of objectifying a woman. There’s no doubt it’s a catchy tune but it sticks out like a sore thumb on the record.
Another gripe is that the ‘woah woah’ vocals that fill the background of title track Hallelujah Nights because they’ve been done to death on so many songs. In my opinion the track doesn’t benefit from putting them in there.
On the whole Hallelujah Nights is a solid debut effort from LANCO. They are clearly a talented bunch and frontman Brandon Lancaster showcases his songwriting and singing talent impressively. There’s a nice amount of variety on the record and it gives the band plenty of avenues to explore as they begin to think about their next body of work.
Track listing: 1. Born to Love You 2. Long Live Tonight 3. Pick You Up 4. Greatest Love Story 5. We Do 6. Trouble Maker 7. Singin’ at the Stars 8. Win You Over 9. So Long (I Do) 10. Middle of the Night 11. Hallelujah Nights Record label: Sony Music Release date: 19th January 2018